I’m pleased to report – mostly because it was my holiday – that EuroLambretta 2017 was something of a success despite the politics.
With 650 LCGB members attending, along with large groups from Scotland, Ireland and Ulster, the British Isles supplied more than a third of the 1,800 rally-goers.
Central to almost every attendee’s desire was to ride Lambrettas. Some wanted to ride all the way there and never see a saddle again until the way home. Others from nearer to Adria wanted to do every ride-out (there were actually four if you include Thursdays’ jaunt), while a third smaller group were happy to get a chance to play on a live race-track for free.
With a packed programme clearly there were other prerequisites to satisfy:
Essential ingredient 1: good weather
This wasn’t a given. Thunderstorms lurked around the area like muggers before the rally and ambushed small groups on the way home, but the whole rally weekend was a scorcher. Fine if you had an air-conditioned hotel, not so good if you were in a tent without shade and went to bed at 4am.
Essential ingredient 2: mosquitoes
Adria is on the delta of the enormous Po River; which is home to both dog-eating giant catfish and mosquitoes that are nearly as voracious. Both the LCGB and the rally organisers prepared people in advance with Mossie-spray in the goodie bags but I found it simpler to bring a decoy with tastier blood than mine. Also, speaking as a vampire, I find that full, plump-red mosquitoes off someone’s neck are a perfect midnight dancefloor snack.
Essential ingredient 3: Italian politics
If anything, the main flaw of the organisation was that the Lambretta Club of Italy tried to do a bit too much. Political power-play between two factions, each saying that the other event would not be feasible, both turned out to be wrong. Contrary to rumours the Lambretta Club of Lombardy’s Monza – held two weeks before – managed to provide one hour of free riding for Lambrettisti on the famous F1 track near Milan. Equally Adria circuit – which the local press claimed was being closed over some ‘tax difficulties’ – was clearly fully operational on our arrival, hosting not only EuroLambretta but also motorcycle and kart track days. In the end the biggest comments I heard about this over the weekend, were “why couldn’t they be one week apart so we could have made a holiday of it?” or “why couldn’t they just do one big event together?”
Only the Italian clubs can answer this…
Essential ingredient 4: a big enough venue
The choice of Adria circuit, which is not really near to anywhere important, was to get somewhere big enough to host probably the largest EuroLambretta yet. The circuit has a massive aircraft hanger capable of hosting 1,800 people for a sit-down gala meal and back-slap festival as is traditional for these events.
VIDEO | The Road to EuroLambretta
Essential ingredient 5: ride-outs
While many would have loved to ride around the Lambretta’s historic birthplace on the Lambro river in Milan, in the end the Po Delta proved a perfect venue. Low volumes of traffic and easily navigable dykes alongside the river meant that a steady stream of hundreds, maybe even a thousand smoking Lambrettas could ride together uninterrupted. We stopped several times on the Friday jaunt around the estuary and the spectacle was absolutely breathtaking as so many Lambrettas from so many countries rode past in unity. It simply would not be possible in a busy city.
Essential Ingredient 6: a scooterist party
Like it or not, there is a style and music intertwined with the scooter scene which is important to people who kept the flame alive by riding Lambrettas through the 80s and 90s. These people like to party. Unlike the EuroLambretta in Perugia, where it was left to Italian scooterists to organise an off-site disco, here the party was given the main stage and an unusual metal dancefloor. Like the cheap on-site bars this was perfect for the party-heads who enjoyed music at “Motorhead-level volumes” until very late in the morning. Well done Bruno!
Essential Ingredient 7: some back-up
While there is a lot of trailering to modern Euro-Lambrettas, there were still many scooterists who’d tackled enormous distances on vintage scooters, of which many suffered predictable mechanical disasters on the way. For those in the middle of a long touring holiday, having a broken scooter is a massive stress. Last year the Lambretta Club of Deutschland showed how a repair workshop should be run, and this year the Italian equivalent worked their socks off to weld and repair as many scooters as possible to get people back on the road for free with limited numbers of mechanics and benches. Respect is due to Mario and Maurizio (Casa Lambretta), Mickyboy, Lorenz and Joe (RLC), Albertino Vicentini & Mattia Ramini (Stray Runner Performance), Emanuele Astore (LC Campania) and Mio Ivan & Colosimo Santo (LC Friuli) for all their efforts. People who turn up asking if their trailered scooter can be re-jetted, or to have their speedo cable replaced are not really helping those whose need of assistance is genuine.
In other news…
The chief problem of the weekend was communication, with no definitive explanation in the welcome packs of what was happening where or when, or how to enter.
Many people seemed oblivious to the fact that there was a dealer’s market because it was hidden away at the back of the dining hall behind a screen. Inside there were lots of new and used revelations, including the launch of our new ‘SLUK Clip’ bridge-piece fitting kits, which flew out from the LCGB and RLC stalls.
The Gori stall displayed the first prototype of the new pressure die-cast Lambretta engine casing from UNI in India which proposes a cheaper solution to the sand-cast upgrade cases from Gran Turismo, Casa Performance and Tino Sacchi.
Others didn’t know that there were two one-hour free riding sessions on the main track for anyone with a working scooter and wearing normal road safety gear. I’m sure some of this was down to lack of awareness or over-indulgence, while others felt intimidated by sharing tarmac with some of the missile-like racing scooters that were lapping, fastest of which was the Casa SSR250. The proposed time trial also didn’t take place and the promised chance to ride the new Lambretta never materialised either.
There were numerous things you could easily miss if you weren’t paying attention: like the Italian post office selling limited-edition 70th anniversary Lambretta postage stamps to use on the postcards in your goodie bag.
Of course, for the vast majority, none of this mattered a jot, with beautiful wine, women and scooters in abundance and too much to see in a short space of time, the weekend passed in a blur.
The elephant in the room
The unveiling of ‘New Lambretta’ at EuroLambretta was always going to be a bone of contention, given the hostile reaction it has already received on social media after appearing on the cover of a certain magazine.
The V-Special (as the Vendetta is now called) was first officially unveiled to the press and prospective dealers and importers on Friday 50-miles away in Padova.
A second unveiling took place at Adria on Saturday afternoon. It only drew a crowd of a few hundred despite the presence of the scantily-clad Ma-Fra girls.
Dutchman Walter Scheffrahn – the man behind the new Lambretta project and parent company Innocenti SA – gave a speech and the covers were pulled off to reveal matt grey and orange versions of the V-Special city scooter.
As a side-show to an event that is all about classic Lambrettas, rather than taking centre stage it went off far more peacefully than I’d anticipated. We collected some views from those who witnessed the unveiling on video.
VIDEO - Reactions to the V-Special
From my personal point of view Adria was the wrong place to launch a scooter that is really aimed at a different audience, however in terms of a focus group to steer future development the design team certainly got told a few home truths and were given a few pointers for future models.
Even if the current V-Special has not satisfied the scooterist agenda, that’s not to say that Innocenti S.A. won’t make something more interesting and better looking in the future. Walter mentioned a proposed 400cc version with a longer ‘tail’. The latest rumours are that the company are now looking into producing a scooter with a manual gearbox as a result of feedback from Adria.
It will be interesting to see how the different national Lambretta clubs react to this new vehicle, because it’s something that they all need to think about now. The cosy world where EuroLambretta was just about a classic scooter that’s been out of production for 20 years has been removed. There is now a new machine wearing that esteemed badge, bringing with it all the commercial considerations that such a development entails. Importers will set up in every country looking to promote their products and owners of V-Specials will expect to be able to join a club.
Do you think that the national clubs should welcome new Lambretta? Have your say in the comments below. We’ll have more on this story next week.
On with the show
To be honest, the gala dinner was a bit of a shambles with 1-hour waits between courses punctuated by a stop-start raffle. In fairness, trying to feed 1,800 people at the same time is a logistical impossibility but every course that arrived on our table was hot and tasty.
After the traditional ‘raffle and trophy presentation of doom’, which lasted beyond midnight, it was on with the music and the party people reclaimed the hall until 4am.
While we packed up our scooters to tackle some of the Alpine passes, there was still time for the organisers to fit in one last ride-out around the region. The only clouds to be seen came from 2-stroke exhausts but between the smog you could make out a sea of smiling faces.
This sun-soaked EuroLambretta was very different to its predecessors, but it was also a long way from the failure that the doomsayers predicted. Next year the circus moves to central Spain and promises to be a much more traditional affair and much less commercial.
I certainly enjoyed Adria, particularly thrashing my 5-speed RT225 around the track on Friday. With everything miraculously unbroken there was nothing left but to twist the throttle and point my trusty SX200 towards the TimmelsjochPass.
See you in Spain 2018…
Additional photos by Tracy and YoLeila